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Scientists have long suspected that a quantum phenomenon might play a role in photosynthesis and other chemical reactions of nature, but don't know for sure because such a phenomenon is so difficult to identify.

Purdue University researchers have demonstrated a new way to measure the phenomenon of entanglement in chemical reactions—the ability of quantum particles to maintain a special correlation with each other over a large distance.

Uncovering exactly how chemical reactions work could bring ways to mimic or recreate them in new technologies, such as for designing better .

The study, published on Friday (Aug. 2) in Science Advances, generalizes a popular theorem called "Bell's inequality" to identify entanglement in chemical reactions. In addition to theoretical arguments, the researchers also validated the generalized inequality through a .

"No one has experimentally shown entanglement in chemical reactions yet because we haven't had a way to measure it. For the first time, we have a practical way to measure it," said Sabre Kais, a professor of chemistry at Purdue. "The question now is, can we use entanglement to our advantage to predict and control the outcome of chemical reactions?"

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